Selfridges celebrated the most profitable hour in its 100 year history as a stampede of early bargain hunters launched a record-breaking Boxing Day sales frenzy across Britain.
High streets are welcoming an estimated 22 million shoppers, some of whom started queueing at 1am, as analysts predict takings of up to £3.74 billion in the most hotly-anticipated shopping day of the year.
Crowds braved wind and rain for hours outside luxury department store Harrods, while more than 4,000 shoppers threatened mayhem when the doors opened at Selfridges flagship store in central London.
In a signal that consumers are spending big, Selfridges said it had taken more than £2million between 9am and 10am – its best ever hour.
People queuing for the Harrods Boxing Day sale Photo: HEATHCLIFF O'MALLEY
John Lewis Clearance said it was also enjoying a "strong start", with orders online increasing 17.7% on last year.
Shoppers elbowed one another to get their hands on Selfridges' star buys, which inclded a Oscar de la Renta bustier dress slashed in price form £14,470 to £2,995. The first product sold in the London store was a Valentino Wristlet, reduced form £1,400 to £700
Meave Wall, Selfridges Stores Director said: "The customer response to the sale in each of our stores so far today has been unprecedented, and we are on course for another record breaking Boxing Day opening."
Shoppers queue up outside Selfrdiges department store in London ahead of the annual Boxing Day sales Photo: Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images
As the shutters went up at River Island in Brent Cross, shoppers surged underneath with many immediately dashing to the discounted handbags.
Brent Cross general manager Tom Nathan said: "You get the sense that people are really in for a bargain. Over the last three weeks people have been focusing on buying gifts and this is really 'me time' now."
Figures from VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research suggest 22 million shoppers are set to spend £3.74 billion in the Boxing Day sales – a 6% increase on last year.
In good news for the high street, the research predicts that 78% of total Boxing Day transactions will take place in bricks and mortar stores.
But online sales are set to be up 13% on last year.
Some predictions suggest overall sales could be up to 170 per cent higher than on Black Friday, which was a damp squib in the high streets, though a success online.
– Scroll down for all of the best UK deals
Despite the hype around the bargains offered in the November bonanza, shoppers were seemingly put off high streets by frenzied scenes of crowds fighting over bargains last year, with a 4 per cent drop in footfall this year.
Other forecasts suggest that the timing of Boxing Day on Saturday could result in a modest 3 per cent rise in sales compared with last year, rising to 7 per cent by Monday, as the bank holiday weekend continues.
Experts have said the number and range of products on offer in sales this year could be the greatest in three decades due to a "perfect storm" of mild weather and a public that has become accustomed to discounts.
Keen shoppers queue outside Harrods Photo: Paul Grover/The Telegraph
Retailers have admitted their stockrooms are overflowing with more unsold items than usual as they enter the so-called "clearance" sales that start after Christmas.
Stores will be attempting to offload coats, jumpers, gloves and boots that have gone unsold due to the warmer weather.
But some retail analysts said shoppers had simply learned to wait until prices hit rock bottom.
"Retailers spent most of 2015 educating consumers not to buy at full price and shopper fatigue has set in, with people saying 'so what,'" said Richard Hyman, who has advised brands such as Debenhams and M&S for 35 years. "In reality shoppers have become tactical… because history is starting to tell them tomorrow [prices] might be cheaper."
The earlier start of online sales, with major shops including John Lewis, Debenhams, Next and M&S offering up to 50 per cent off, means many shoppers spent Christmas Day hunting for a bargain.
Releasing its top 10 Christmas bestsellers this year, Amazon said that Adele’s comeback album, 25, topped the list.
Gadgets, video games and film and TV shows dominated the list, with Star Wars: Battlefront, making the top 10.
In a nod to tradition, If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – a new album which combined the King’s vocals with classical arrangements – was the sixth biggest seller.
Shoppers queue outside Next Photo: Getty
What are the best Boxing Day deals?
The online retail giant, which is known to have a liberal approach to the concept of a "day", is kicking off its Boxing Day deals at 4pm on Christmas Day and running them until December 31. Our full round-up of Amazon's best deals is here, but if you'd like a little taster:
• Lenovo YOGA 300 11.6-inch Convertible notebook, was £249.99, now £194.99
• Gant Men's The Gant Double Long Sleeve Jacket, was £325.00, now £113.75
• Casio CTK-1100AD 61 Key Electronic Keyboard is down from £73.60 to £54.99
• Clogau Gold Royal Crown Diamond Earrings, was £2,300, now £920.
• Johnnie Walker Double Black Label Blended Scotch Whisky, was £34.33, now £22.99
The electrical goods retailer will be discounting products online from 7pm on Christmas Eve until stock lasts. Deals include:
• LG 55UF770V 55-inch Smart 4K Ultra HD TV, was £1,399, now £799
• Jura Impressa A5 Automatic 13756 Bean to Cup Coffee Machine, was £895, now £449
• Morphy Richards Power Steam Elite 330016 Steam Generator Iron, was £249, now £99
• Dyson Multi Floor DC40MF Upright Vacuum Cleaner, was £299, now £199
Straight off the back of a bumper Black Friday, Argos will be launching its week of Boxing Day sales online from midnight on Christmas morning, with some promotions running until mid-January. Furniture is 60pc off, but use the code FURN10 at checkout for a further 10pc discount on items over £100. Deals include:
• New Logan Leather/Leather Effect Sofa, was £699.99, now £251.99
• Mursley Oak Effect Dining Table and Six Chairs, was £599.99, now £255.49
• Silentnight Middleton 4ft 6 2 drawer Divan Bed, was £1,249.99, now £449.99
• Dyson V6 Animal Cordless Handstick Cleaner, was £349.99, now £249.99
• LG 49 inch 49LF510V HD LED TV, was £549, now £329
• Reebok ZR9 Treadmill, was £999.99, now £379.99
Currys PC World says it is putting on the UK's biggest electrical sale this Christmas, expecting almost 5m web visitors. The sale kicks off online at midday on December 24 and reaches stores at 8am on Boxing Day.
• Dyson V6 Total Clean, was £429, now £299
• LG Soundbar and Wireless Subwoofer, was £349, now £199
• Lenovo All-in-One PC with Intel Core i5 processor and 23” Touchscreen, was £699.99, now £499.99
• Sony 55” 55X8509 Smart Ultra HD 4K LED, was £1,249, now £899
Like many other retailers this year, Debenhams has no intention of waiting until Boxing Day to cut prices. The department store has knocked 50pc off many online products, with the sale moving to stores from 7am on 26 December. Offers include:
• Oxford double bed, was £1,000, now £400
• Large textured Fyfield Barley sofa, was £1,300, now £520
• Oak and painted Wadebridge extending table and four chairs, was £2,000, now £800
• Breville Halo+ Health fryer, was £179, now £99
What's a Boxing Day without the best ever DFS sale? The sofa superstore is offering up to 50pc off its stock, with savings of £1,800 on some items. Most discounts are already available and run until January 6. Stores open at 9am on Boxing Day.
• Best for 100pc leather: Rally 3-seater sofa, £349 at sale price, then £799
• Best for timeless style: Valentine 3-seater sofa, £998 at sale price, then £1,998
• Best for corners: Eleanor corner sofa, £599 at sale price, then £1,498
• Best for biggest savings: Estate 2 Corner 2 Sofa, £1,798 at sale price, then £3,598
The department store and fashion retailer is offering up to 50pc off in this year's Boxing Day sales.
A sales assistant adjusts a window display in a Fenwick store at Brent Cross shopping centre in London Photo: David Parry/PA
The best deals include:
• Bella Freud glittery blue jumper, was £279, now £195 (available at Bond Street)
• Kate Spade sequin top, was £360, now £180 (available at Bond Street)
• Sophie Hulme backpack, was £695, now £209 (available at Bond Street)
• Monica Vinader jewellery, up to 50pc off (available at Brent Cross)
• House of Holland patterned skirt, wWas £299, now £179 (available Bond Street)
New year, new look. Stores open at 9am on Boxing Day but the online sale has already kicked off. Here's what you can get your hands on.
• Beatrice 3-seater sofa, £895, after-sale price £1,135
• Kross extending table and six chairs, £995, after-sale price £1,893
• Hypnos Revive Deluxe Cotton king size divan set, £995, after-sale price £1,465
The homeware store has already kicked off its sale, so there's a chance to get some last minute Christmas shopping in. Deals are available until January 24th and include:
• Chester emerald green 3-seater sofa, was £1,600, now £1,100
• Ribbon large metal table lamp, was £120, now £60
• Eli dinner plate, was £6, now £3
• Wilmot yellow armchair, was £650, now £450
• Antonn tall shelving unit, was £495, now £225
Didn't get a bicycle for Christmas? Or perhaps you've decided to start a new fitness regime in January.
Halfords is offering 25pc off all adult Boardman bikes, taking the Boardman Road Sport Bike (featuring a lightweight 7005 triple butted alloy frame and Shimano Claris 16 speed gearing) from £449.99 to £337.49.
The Boxing Day sale includes up to 60pc off selected cycling clothing brands, including Altura, Boardman, Dare2b and Ridge.
Deals are live online and will be available in store from 9am on Boxing Day.
The Knightsbridge department store has promised an "all-singing, all-dancing celebration" as it kicks off its Boxing Day sale with an exclusive performance of several songs from Elf the Musical. The entertainment starts at 8am on December 26 and doors open at 10am. The sale runs until 6pm on Sunday 17 January.
Harrods said it expects more than 1m customers to walk through its doors during the four-week sale period. Promotions include up to 50pc off women's fashion, 40pc discounts in Cookshop and 25pc off furniture and home accessories.
Will Ferrell stars in Elf Photo: New Line/Everett / Rex Features
• Markus Lupfer Circus Jewel Natalie Sweater, was £280, now £139
• Stella McCartney Willow Rocket Bomber Jacket for children, was £125 to £150, now £59.95 to £74.95
• Fendi Monster Baseball Jacket for children, was £350, now £169
• Philip Lim Metallic Bag, was £765, now £459
Harvey Nicks is knocking 50pc off all fashion and shoes, with 40pc off jewellery and handbags. The sale starts online on Christmas Eve and moves in-store on Boxing Day – although members of the rewards scheme can access offers from now until 20th December. Here's our round-up of the five best buys. Other deals include:
• Victoria Beckham Quincy cobalt leather tote bag, £995 down to £497.50
• Stella McCartney Nicky black leopard-jacquard blazer, £965 down to £482.50
• Diesel olive cotton parka and quilted jacket, £370 down to £185
• Valentino camouflage-print leather trainers, £465 down to £232.50
Last year, the department store knocked 50pc off many products, including furniture, while toys were sold at a 30pc discount.
The online sale started at 5pm on Christmas Eve but stores (excluding Trafford Centre) were not open until 27 December and this year looks to be the same set-up.
Until then, John Lewis is running a "12 Days of Christmas Surprises" promotion, offering new deals every day between 5 and 16 December.
The M&S Boxing Day sale launched online at midday on Christmas eve and will hit stores on December 26. Items across most departments including clothes, furniture and beauty are up to 50pc off. Deals include:
• Leather Panelled A-Line Skirt, was £249, now £144.50
• Bridget Trench Coat, was £249, now £155
• Round Toe Chelsea Ankle Boots, was £185, now £115
• Case of 12 bottles of red wine "classics", was £75, now £56.25
The online fashion retailer has kicked off its Boxing Day sale, knocking up to 50pc off items. We've rounded up the five best sale items here.
Next was one of the big winners last year, with customers queuing overnight on Christmas for serious discounts: see photographic evidence below.
The retailer has not revealed specific details of its best deals this Boxing Day – but why bother, when absolutely everything is at least 50pc off?
The sale starts online at 3pm on Christmas Eve and hits stores at 6am on Boxing Day.
Bargain hunters pour into a Next on Boxing Day
A shopper at WestQuay in Southampton has at least five packed Next bags Photo: Matt Alexander/PA
The Oxford Street flagship branch opened its doors at 9am on Boxing Day to throngs of people waiting on the street., while the Birmingham store is open from 8am to 9pm.
Shoppers queue for the opening of the Selfridges sale at the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham Photo: Jon Super/PA
Shoppers usually start queuing from the wee hours to get their hands on the luxury department store's best bargains, and that's been happening for decades.
• Christopher Kane bouquet motif sweater, was £530, now £250
• See by Chloe hooded denim cape, was £315, now £150
• Roksanda striped panel pencil skirt, was £825, now £415
• Dries van Noten sequin band sandals, was £595, now £299
In this video from 1970, Selfridges staff hand out coffee and doughnuts to shoppers waiting to enter the store.
The health and beauty retailer is starting Boxing Day online on 23rd December and the sale spreads to stores from 26th December. Superdrugs is knocking up to 73pc off products, including:
• Cheryl Stormflower Eau de Parfum 50ml, was £20, now £15
• Calvin Klein CK One, was £20, now £10
• Zoella Awesome Drawersome bathing collection, was £50, now £25
• Makeup Revolution Ultra Pro Blush and Highlight, was £15, now £3.99
For other great beauty deals this Boxing Day, head over to our round up.
The supermarket is offering discounts of up to 70pc across more than 800 product lines. The sale, which is already live online and in stores, includes:
• Nescafe Dolce Gusto Oblo Coffee Machine by Krups, was £99.50, now £29.50
• Tefal Optimo Steam Generator Iron, was £109, now £49
• Vax Air Steer Max Cyclonic Vacuum Cleaner, was £159, now £79
• Canon All-in-One Printer and Scanner, was £49, now £29
• E-Motion 32-inch HD Ready LED TV with Freeview, was £149, now £99
• Sharp 40-inch Full HD LED TV with Freeview, was £289, now £199
• Nikon Coolpix L31 Digital Camera, £39, saving £10
Watchshop.com is knocking up to 60pc off thousands of watches and jewellery items, including brands such as Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Guess, Seiko and Maurice Lacroix.
More to come
We'll be updating this post regularly with the best Boxing Day sales
Prices are correct at time of publication.